Jay Kitchen Pop-Up Dinner: Fine dining by vegan wunderkind Jay Astafa  »

Late last month, your Vegansaurus was invited to attend a fancypants vegan pop-up dinner by up-and-coming vegan chef Jay Astafa. As part of our constant effort to bring you the most important news on the best vegan dining, we accepted.

The pop-up was an eight-course tasting menu of Jay’s savory vegan delights, with dessert by vegan pastry chef and fellow wunderkind Dani McGrath, and wines by the Vegan Vine.

Here are some photos that I took. They’re … adequate.


First course: King oyster mushroom scallop with aged balsamic caviar and green pea purée


Second course (one of my favorites!): Spring crostini duo (ramps & cashew chèvre; sorrel-mint pesto, micro pea tendrils, green peas, cashew parmesan)


Third course: Chilled potato and leek soup with chive olive oil foam


Fourth course (SO GOOD YOU GUYS): Ravioli with asparagus and ricotta (house-made cashew cream butter, cashew parmesan)


Fifth course: Smoked cauliflower steak with sunchoke purée, morels, fava beans, snap peas, green garlic, truffle vinaigrette, shaved black summer truffle


Sixth course: House-made cheese plate with aged cashew cheese and brie, strawberry-rhubarb compote, orange-infused vegan honey, rosemary-almond crackers


Seventh course: “Dragon Breath” caramel popcorn


Eighth course: Grand Marnier-infused chocolate rart with pistachio gelato, raspberry coulis, pistachio tuile, raspberry pop candy, fleur de sel salted caramel powder

Lucky for you, Ms. Hannah “Bittersweet Blog” Kaminsky took much better pictures of the menu that really do Jay and Dani’s dishes justice. She also has Jay’s recipe for the sorrel-mint pesto crostini, which was one of my favorite dishes and which I fully intend to (attempt to) reproduce, because holy moly, it was so good. Go see for yourself!

To find out more about Jay Astafa and Jay Kitchen, follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He also catered Farm Sanctuary’s Fashion Loves Animals event (which we attended, too!) last weekend. Keep an eye out for more from this super-talented kid; he is amazing, and we are lucky to have him on team vegan.

(And seriously check out Hannah’s photos, they are gorgeous.)

Got a tip about an awesome vegan-friendly event? Let us know! We love fun!


Thanksgiving Recipe AND Cookbook Review: Vegan A La Mode  »

Overall Rating: A
Creativity: A+
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
Best for: Anyone who owns an ice cream maker. Bonus if you have adventurous taste in dessert.

Why review an ice cream cookbook in November?

  1. You should make the Easy As Pumpkin Pie recipe (below) for your Thanksgiving feast.
  2. We like to keep you guessing. 

I know a thing or two about vegan ice cream recipes. For our wedding in summer 2011, my husband and I made 18 flavors in place of having a wedding cake. I sure wish Ms. Hannah had gotten around to publishing this gem of a book in time for our wedding guests to benefit.

This is hands-down the finest collection of vegan ice cream recipes ever made. Hannah Kaminsky is to vegan ice cream what Terry and Isa are to vegan cupcakes or Miyoko Schinner is to vegan cheese. Her creativity with flavors is unparalleled, but so are her solutions for richness and texture. 

Making the Buttery Popcorn flavor. Seriously.

The book started as a blog, so you can check out some recipes there. At least a third of the flavors are what I’d call “highly experimental”: beet marmalade, wasabi-ginger-sesame-chocolate, buttered popcorn. Others are easy crowd-pleasers: peanut-butter Oreo, French vanilla, maple-pecan. Some are pretty ambitious (Birthday Cake requires that you cook cupcakes, then put them in the blender). Some are super-simple (see Easy As Pumpkin Pie, below). All that I’ve made have been delectable and worth the work.

Each recipe appears on its own spread, which makes the logistics of cooking easy, and most have a sexy glamour shot to make you drool. Some of the thickeners and texturizers might be unfamiliar (guar gum, anyone?), but Rainbow Grocery sells them in bulk, so buy a tablespoonful and experiment. The Banana Pudding ice cream, which includes a hit of guar, is the only vegan flavor I’ve ever made that scooped soft straight out of the freezer.

Final verdict:  If you have an ice cream maker, you owe it to yourself and that little machine to buy this book. (If you don’t have one, you should get one. They’re great. I’ve got this one by Cuisinart.)



Easy as Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 14-ounce can regular coconut milk 
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed 
1/4 cup grade-B maple syrup 
2 Tbsp. bourbon 
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon 
3/4 tsp. ground ginger 
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves 
Pinch freshly cracked black pepper 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Mix everything together in a bowl until smooth.

2. Chill for a while.

3. Process in your machine as per its directions.



Worldwide Vegan Bakesale: NYC keeps it real!  »

Real delicious, that is!

Ginger cookies, strawberry jam-filled muffins, and maple pecan buttons

The vegans of NYC were in fine form yesterday, appearing en masse at MooShoes in the East Village for yesterday’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, benefiting For the Animals Sanctuary in Blairstown, N.J. The place was packed and there was no shortage of sweet and savory baked yumminess!

Clockwise from top left: rum raisin brownies, peanut butter cheesecake, five-spice snaps, pesto pinwheels, peanut butter s’more turnovers, strawberry jam-filled muffins

I stocked up on obnoxious loudmouthed vegan buttons over by the register, which were nicely accentuated by pear mojito cupcakes and lemon cake,
smiled at all the incredible stories of happy animals featured by For the Animals, and tried on some super cute vegan rings, handmade with all sales towards the Sanctuary.

Vegan superstar and sweetheart Hannah Kaminsky was there with her brilliant baking bible, Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season.

And let’s not forget the amazing shopping experience that is MooShoes—every time I go there, there’s more and more to love.  Talk about inspiration to get rich!
OMG SHOES, and boots, and bags, and wallets.

Yup, a total success. My Tupperware containers left chock-full of pastry goodness, and it’s SUCH an awesome feeling to know where every dollar went.

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